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A California teacher is facing backlash from both the right and the left for donning Native American attire and then performing some sort of dance or ritual in front of her students.
Conservatives say the teacher’s stunt is an example of the “nonsense” that children are exposed to, and liberals say the teacher’s stunt is an example of racism and “cultural appropriation.”
Either way, Riverside’s John W. North High School math teacher Candice Reed has been placed on administrative leave because of the backlash.
Watch a video recording of the teacher’s performance below, and take note of conservative Hollywood actor James Woods’ response:
Public schools no longer teach civics or history. Half the kids who graduate can’t make change for a dollar, or know how to read an analog clock. But this nonsense is shoved down their throats daily…. pic.twitter.com/ogrrprn3TZ
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) October 22, 2021
The video originally appeared on the Instagram account of Akalei Brown, a Riverside woman who lists herself as a “Native Studies Consultant” and “Foster Youth Advocate.”
“Yesterday a Native American student filmed this video in his Math class! After several minutes of the teacher ‘war hooping & tomahawk chopping’ the student began filming because he, ‘felt that violence was being committed against him and he had the right to record,'” Brown wrote as the video’s caption.
“I am sharing this video because these behaviors can no longer be swept under the rug! As adults, we must stand up for our youth! Please help us in getting the word out and SHARE! This student has a Native first name and outwardly identifies as Native American. We need to end abuse & discrimination against indigenous youth in schools! There is no excuse for this type of behavior. We’re not in the 1960s anymore, she should know better,” she added.
View her Instagram post below:
View this post on Instagram
The post quickly went viral, triggering widespread, bipartisan anger, albeit for vastly different reasons.
As seen in Woods’ tweet, the response from the right is one of frustration over teachers wasting their time teaching “nonsense.”
In Reed’s defense, the performance was actually part of a trigonometry lesson that she’s reportedly been using for years.
John W. North High School shared this from a 2012 yearbook. This teacher Candice Reed has been doing this for awhile now. CLEARLY the school was fully aware of what she’s been doing and fully approved of this mockery. This is 2021 & we will find the truth to your lies. pic.twitter.com/aPfcqQunY4
— Tyonie Tiel (@TyonieT) October 21, 2021
If you listen closely to the video, you’ll hear her chanting “SohCahToa,” which is a mnemonic device used to help students remember the three main functions of trigonometry: Sine, Cosine and Tangent:
- Sine = Opposite/Hypotenuse
- Cosine = Adjacent/Hypotenuse
- Tangent = Opposite/Adjacent
And so technically, she wasn’t teaching “nonsense.”
That said, critics on the left have stressed that she could have taught the same lesson without seemingly mocking Native American culture.
After all, if you listen closely to the video, you’ll also hear her saying at the end that “obviously, this is ridiculous.”
See some of the responses from the left below (*Language warning):
All that to teach a class SohCahToa? SohCahToa is like the only thing I remember from HS, and the teacher didn’t disrespect or mock our indigenous ancestors to get me to remember it.
— Josh (@imjoshphoto) October 21, 2021
what in the fuck does the sohcahtoa mnemonic even conceivably have to do with indigenous peoples
— Zinnia Jones (@ZJemptv) October 21, 2021
She’s trying to teach Sohcahtoa. Why she chose racism to make it more appealing…that I can’t answer.
— الكسندرا ميراي (@Lexialex) October 21, 2021
Just saying the word “Sohcahtoa” is usually enough to make it a mnemonic, you don’t need to go into this whole racist thing about how it “sounds like the name of an Indian chief”, much less actually ACT IT OUT
— Arthur Chu (@arthur_affect) October 21, 2021
This criticism seems fair. Though on the other hand, some far-leftists have slammed “SohCahToa” itself, despite its long-established use as a successful teaching method. According to these critics, the mnemonic device shouldn’t be used anymore.
Suddenly there’s a team #SOHCAHTOA As if anyone ever actually remembered what the fuck that stood for before this racist clown start dancing around like what Eric Trump thinks a Native American does #candacereed
— Maysoon (@maysoonzayid) October 21, 2021
Even besides the obvious offensiveness, if you think SOHCAHTOA is the best way to explain basic trig, you’re teaching math wrong. https://t.co/oEKifiUZNq
— Hemant Mehta (@hemantmehta) October 21, 2021
There are some who say the teacher deserves praise, not condemnation, for teaching the fundamentals of trigonometry in a way that the students will likely never forget.
I bet those math kids will never forget SohCahToa ever again for the rest of their lives so maybe let’s not judge someone for doing a good job
— Hapsburg Jaw (@HapsburgJaw) October 21, 2021
Children need more teachers like this. Who care and put everyrhing into yeaxhing students the akills they need to be successful. I can guarantee you the kids will never forget SohCahToa. Except the student who was offended who will graduate school demanding universal income.
— Janice Damoore (@DamooreJanice) October 22, 2021
The Riverside Unified School District responded to the controversy by taking the critics’ side and issuing a statement Thursday — one laden with “woke” terminology” — announcing that Reed has been placed on leave.
“These behaviors are completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices. Her actions do not represent the values of our district. The teacher has been placed on leave while the District conducts an investigation,” the district wrote.
“The Riverside Unified School District values diversity, equity and inclusion, and does not condone behavior against these values. We are deeply committed to implementing inclusive practices and policies that honor the rich diversity of our district and the greater region. We will be working with our students, families, staff and community to regain your trust,” it continued.
Brown was not pleased. Look what she posted to Instagram late Thursday:
View this post on Instagram
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